Christchurch was our entry and departure point for the South Island, so we spent one night on each end in the city.
First night: Sudima Hotel Christchurch Airport
We arrived near midnight and after two nights on planes were quite glad we had booked the airport hotel as all we wanted was a real bed. The Sudima Hotel was clearly used to late arrivals as we simply walked up and they already had our keys waiting for a quick check in. All told we were in our room 35 minutes after landing, including picking up our checked bag, and were asleep before 1am. The beds were quite springy but we didn’t care after two nights on plane, though we might have on a second evening. Also, the motel is rather noisy, so earplugs are recommended. They also had good local honey amenities. Check out was very efficient, which was appreciated.
Last night: Lorenzo Motor Lodge
The hotel was a small, two-level motel-style building. Our room had an inexplicable amount of windows facing the parking lot including a sliding glass door. Fine for one night, but it would have been a bit too open for a longer stay. Thankfully we have eye masks and earplugs. The room itself was rather large with a small kitchenette and seating area on one side, a comfortable bed and separate bathroom. We were provided a small milk for coffee in the morning, a nice touch.
On our last night we had ~18 hours to explore the city. Christchurch was not as pretty as expected, more industrial, which may be partially due to the rebuilding following the earthquakes several years ago. The botanical gardens were near our hotel so it was nice to take a quick walk through and generally not be in the car!
Roses were especially beautiful in the gardens, and they also had some amazing specimen trees. Surrounding the gardens was a larger park filled with people jogging, walking dogs, and playing rugby, and given the wonderful weather that evening it was no surprise at the amount of people out and about.
We looked at dinner places within walking distance, but decided to try Burgers and Beer – an eight minute drive away. Eric ordered the pulp fiction with fries and an amber beer from Stoke, while Leandra tried the portobello and blue cheese with the dark beer. Quite good, but way too many chips! We also enjoyed their overall design.
After dinner we drove to the edge of downtown to Pomeroy’s, which was noted for their selection of craft beers. Eric tried the pump cask spiced ale, hyperlocal since it was brewed out back! It was quite autumnal, perfect for the cooler weather we’d been experiencing. Leandra ordered the Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black, a dark IPA that she definitely enjoyed. As with most people there, we were sucked into the cricket semifinal between NZ and South Africa.
Since we were close to the CBD we wandered toward Cathedral Square, which was eerily quiet on Tues night. It was quite sobering to still see the ruins of the Cathedral several years after the earthquake.
Then it was back to our room to pack and watch the end of the cricket match, which had a thrilling finale when NZ won on the second-to-last ball of the final over!
The next morning we crossed the street (eventually, traffic is pretty thick) for breakfast at Cafe Sismo. Eric ordered the ubiquitous eggs on toast, while Leandra ordered a beef and cheese pie with salad. Convenient and decent, but not memorable.
Overall, our impressions of Christchurch were pretty neutral. We would strongly consider flying in and out of Queenstown on a future visit as that would put us much closer to the main sites we wanted to see.